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Norwich Union International report
28 Jan 2006 17:25

A world indoor record for the women’s 4x400m by Russia, home victories for Daniel Caines, Nathan Morgan  Andy Baddeley and Jason Gardener plus two lifetime bests by heptathlete Kelly Sotherton were prominent among the highlights at the Norwich Union International in front of a sell-out crowd at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, on Saturday 28 January.

Here is how the afternoon’s excitement unfolded…

Women’s 60m hurdles – Norwich Union GB representative Sarah Claxton (Belgrave) was distraught to be disqualified for two false starts. Three false starts – and the disqualification of the Italian competitor, Margaret Macchiut – later, Susanna Kallur (Sweden) won in the fastest time in the world this year, 7.86 seconds, with Kelly Sotherton (Birchfield) fourth for the Commonwealth Select in a personal best of 8.26 as she sharpens-up for the Commonwealth Games heptathlon. “Mr Knight, my coach, will be extremely happy about that,” said the delighted Kelly in a reference to Graham Knight, the recently retired UK Athletics Technical Director for Sprints and Hurdles who is devoting his time now to coaching.

She added: “After all that palava with the starts I’m really pleased to get a PB. That’s a great start to the day and to the season. I hope I can go on now and do even better.” Sarah said: “They had no right to disqualify me; I didn’t do anything. We’re going to try and query it. I feel like I’ve had a race stolen from me. In training I’ve been running quickly and I felt good in warm-up. I know I’m in form to run a PB and maybe another British record so I’m massively disappointed. I’ve got another race tomorrow in Bratislava, so I’ll have to do it there.”

Men’s 3000m – James Thie (Cardiff) found a storming finish to register a PB of 7:56.22 for third place in a race won powerfully by double Olympic medallist Paul Bitok (Commonwealth Select) in a stadium record of 7:49.64, the quickest time in the world so far this infant season. James said: “I was very happy to run a PB here in Glasgow. I was not sure how the race would go today but felt good and to run 7.56.22 shows there is more to come.”

Men’s 400m: Daniel Caines (Birchfield) made a victorious return to action to prove his new training regime in the USA is bringing back his old invigorating form. Five years after he won the World Indoor title and agonising months after injury problems ruined his World Champs hopes last year, he ran like the ‘Daniel the Lionheart’ who initially captured the hearts of the athletics public. Drawn in the outside lane of Kelvin Hall’s steeply banked track, he hustled into the lead as the athletes broke from their lanes, then hung on magnificently to clock 46.90 – a World Indoors qualifying time – and hold-off Olympic and World medallist David Clark (Commonwealth Select) by a mere three-hundredths of a second. Daniel said: “I opened the season with 45.8. I’m not saying that I’m at my best but having the last few years that I’ve had, I’m happy to be back here, injury free and winning races. So long as I continue to win races I will be pleased. I needed a nice stress-free environment so I’ve moved to North Carolina which is nice and peaceful. I’ve got my family and friends around me and a great coach. Without those people nothing would be possible. It’s definitely a change to the system but a change that I have relished. I’m back in a British vest and won my first race. A few people thought I was going to retire but I just wanted to give myself the best chance. I don’t know where I want to be yet but hopefully in 10 weeks’ time I’ll know. It’s going in the right direction.”

Men’s pole vault: Norwich Union AAA Under 20 Champion Steve Lewis (Newham and Essex Beagles) was the surprise home hero, clearing a personal best of 5.40m and earning two unexpected ‘scalps’. Norwich Union GB’s Nick Buckfield (Crawley) no-heighted at 5.40m, the height at which the World and European Indoor Champion Igor Pavlov (Russia) also departed. After finishing in third place, Steve said: “I’m over the moon as I have been working so hard. I was just waiting for the timing to come together. I feel everything is going in the right direction. I’m just going to be pushing at every meeting and hopefully something good in time for the Commonwealth Games.”

Women’s 400m: Melanie Purkiss (Team Southampton) was edged into fourth place in 54.01 in a race won magnificently in a stadium record 50.62 by Olga Zaytseva (Russia), who made a blistering start and never allowed the Olympics and World Champion, Tonique Williams-Darling (Commonwealth Select) to get near her.

Men’s long jump: Nathan Morgan (Birchfield) started his season in blazing form, reaching 8.05m to go second on the UK all-time indoor rankings. Yet he still needs to find another 5cm to qualify for the World Indoors. He was confident afterwards that 8.10m will come in he puts a little more effort into the run-up, adding: “I came here to get the ball rolling and blow away the cobwebs, I guess I did that pretty well. I jumped over 8m twice and to jump 8.05 on my first attempt was very good. I tried to play down today’s event because of the injury problems I had over the last couple of months. I did not take my last jump because I wanted to finish in good shape. It’s looking good for Moscow – I just have to keep myself in good shape.”

His club mate Leigh Smith (representing the Commonwealth) also registered a PB, 7.37m, for fifth place.

Women’s 200m: Susan Deacon (Edinburgh Southern) kept her form and discipline well in the powerful wake of the World’s current fastest over the distance, Yuliya Gushchina (Russia), who won in 23.28. Deacon took third place in 24.08.

Women’s 800m: Commonwealth Games-bound Jemma Simpson (Newquay and Par), who is based at the UK Athletics Endurance Performance Centre at St Mary’s University Twickenham, took third place in an indoor PB of 2:03.41, finishing only five metres behind a fabulous battle in which Yuliya Chizenko (Russia) edged out the legendary Maria Mutola (Commonwealth Select). Mutola led through 200m in 30.15, 400m in 1:01.88 and 600m in 1:33.13 but was muscled out of victory by 18-hundredths of a second by Chizenko, who burst through off the final bend to clock a PB of 2:02.40. Jemma, who was always in third, had to work hard from the bell to hold-off Hayley Ovens (Edinburgh Southern), who took fourth in 2:04.68.

Men’s 1500m: Andy Baddeley (Harrow AC), who is both studying as a post-grad and lecturing part-time at St Mary’s University Twickenham, continued his preparations for the Commonwealth Games in fine style by front-running to victory in an indoor PB of 3:43.50, only half a second outside the entry standard for the World Indoors. Baddeley, who has no intention of diverting to Moscow on his way to Melbourne, led through 400m in 59.86, 800m in 2:00.61 and 1200m in 3:01.79 then held off a fierce challenge down the back straight from Sergey Ivanov (Russia), who finished second in 3:44.18, also a PB. And Michael Skinner (Blackheath and Bromley) also earned a PB, 3:44.94, as he finished third for the Commonwealth Select on a day-off from the pursuit of a place in the Norwich Union GB Team at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Baddeley said: “I am very pleased with my performance today. I feel very strong at the moment. My coach [Andy Hobnell] and I decided that unless we have a hard race, I would not get too much out of today so the plan was to go off hard. I wanted to lead all the way and when the Russian came onto my shoulder, I still had some left for a kick finish. The crowed were fantastic; they really helped on the last lap. It is always nice to run a PB.”

Women’s 60m: Laura Turner (Harrow) was fourth in 7.35 seconds. Olympic 200m Champion Veronica Campbell (Commonwealth Select) survived a false start scare but, when the race got underway at the third attempt, just failed by four-hundredths of a second to catch the in-form Yuliya Tabakova (Russia), who got the verdict in 7.11.

Men’s 60m hurdles: In his first race over the hurdles this year, Andy Turner (Sale Harriers Manchester) made a cautious start – after being responsible for a nervy false start – but still finished within a metre of the two fastest men in the World this winter. And he achieved a PB of 7.72 to prove he is over the injury problems that hampered him last year. Maurice Wignall (Commonwealth Select) won in 7.61, three-hundredths ahead of the fastest man in the world this year, Igor Peremota (Russia).




Women’s long jump: Kelly Sotherton (Norwich Union GB) rounded-off her busy day by equalling her PB, going out to 6.44m in the fourth round of a competition in which she had four fouls. She confessed afterwards: “My run-up was nowhere near where it should be.” But she was pleased that she could equal her previous best despite “jumping badly for me”.  It earned her third place, 22cm ahead of Gillian Cooke (Edinburgh Southern), representing the Commonwealth Select. The competition was won by the 2003 World Indoor Champion Tatyana Kotova (Russia) at 6.75 in the second round.

Men’s 60m: Jason Gardener (Wessex and Bath) stayed top of the world rankings for this season by doing just enough to win by about half a metre from Andrey Yepeshin (Russia), the only man to hold a faster time. To record his sixth victory at this annual meeting, Jason stopped the clock at 6.59, five-hundredths ahead of Yepeshin, who ran 6.58 a few days ago. The other main danger, Morne Nagle (Commonwealth Select) was disqualified for making the second false start. Jason said: “It is great to get maximum points for the team. I keep getting reminded that I am the World and European Champion and I am the one to beat, but you have to keep your cool and stay focused on your race. That was my second win this year. There was a lot of pressure on the start line but you have to stay calm and keep to the rules. The rules are simple: you don’t move until the gun goes. That was my sixth win here in Glasgow which is very pleasing, I have to make sure I run well and win every time I step on the track. I have several races over the next few weeks then it’s off to Melbourne.”

Women’s high jump: Julie Crane (Sale) achieved a fine third place with first time clearances all the way to 1.89m, with 1cm of her lifetime best, before going out at 1.92m. World Champion Kajsa Bergqvist (Sweden) won with a stadium record of 2.01m after uncharacteristically needing two attempts at 1.85m and 1.95m.

Women’s 4x400m: The Russia quartet of Yuliya Gushchina, Olga Kotlyarova Yuliya, Olga Zaytseva and Olga Krasnomobets ran a time trial to lower the world record to 3:23.37. Norwich Union GB took an isolated second place in 3:31.27 thanks to Kim Wall (54.3), Nicola Sanders (a storming 51.2 to earn a 25m lead over the Commonwealth Select), Helen Karagounis (52.3 to extend the lead) and Christine Ohuorugo (53.7 under no pressure whatsoever).

Men’s 4x400m: Norwich Union GB suffered from unfortunate baton-changing and finished third despite valiant efforts by Dale Garland (46.1 on the penultimate leg) and Robert Tobin (46.1 on the final leg in a vain attempt to overtake Russia). David Green, the new Scottish Indoor Champion, had run the first leg in 49.4 to hand over to Brett Rund, who contributed 47.0. A 45.8 final leg by Davian Clark carried the Commonwealth Select to victory in 3:07.52, threequarters of a second ahead of Russia with Norwich Union GB third in 3:08.67.

Norwich Union GB finished the match in third place with 50 points, just two fewer than the Commonwealth Select, with Russia victorious for the third successive year with 65 points. Sweden were fourth with 43 and Italy fifth with 18 after several of their athletes were unable to fly out of their home bases because of heavy snow falls.

Non-match Women’s 300m: Lee McConnell (Shaftesbury Barnet) delighted the packed crowd by cruising to victory in 37.94 seconds – just outside the UK indoor best of 37.46 – and equally cheering for the home supporters was the sight of 19-year-old Gemma Nicol (Dunfermline and West Fife) finishing second in a lifetime best of 38.63 seconds.

SPAR Sprints 60m for the Under 17s were both bedevilled by false start problems similar to those that decimated the Women’s 60m hurdles field but still yielded five PBs.

The first three in the Under 17 Women’s race ran the fastest 60s of their young lives. Becky McLinden (Wirral) won in 7.67, closely followed by Sale Harriers Manchester pair Rebekah Wilson (7.74) and Shauna Thompson (7.78).

The leading two in the Under 17 Men’s race clocked PBs under the most severe and exciting pressure: after one disqualification, three of the four men left standing finished within one-hundredth of a second of each other! Yusuf Aliu (Middlesbrough) dipped best in 7.05 with Edward Chan (Sale) edging second place ahead of James Alaka (Blackheath and Bromley) though both were timed at 7.06.

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